Tseng's coach: 'Shocked' if she doesn't win this year

By Randall MellMarch 5, 2015, 4:50 pm

Yani Tseng joked that she’s making it easy on family and friends again. 

Four days after tying for second in Thailand, she is atop the leaderboard after the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, posting a 6-under-par 66 to share the lead with Inbee Park. 

“My friends and my parents, going to the website, they don’t have to scroll down to see my name,” Tseng said, beaming with a large smile following the round. “They can see [me] right on the top of the first page.” 

For family and friends, seeing Tseng’s smile, hearing her laugh after Thursday’s round, may be just as welcome as seeing her name in contention again. It’s been a long, hard road since she lost the Rolex world No. 1 ranking almost two years ago. 

“It’s fun, it’s so much fun,” Tseng said of being in contention. 

For her new coach back in the United States, Tseng’s reaction to their work is also a welcome sight. Claude Harmon told Tseng there will be bad swings, bad shots and bad days, but her talent will win out. She best serves that talent, he said, simplifying a game that has become all too complicated for her. 

“I’d be shocked if Yani doesn’t win this year,” Harmon told GolfChannel.com. “I told her when we started working, `I can help you get your golf swing back. That’s the easy part.’ You can’t have the talent she has and not get back to the top of the game. She just needs to believe. She needs to believe she can be a great player again.” 

Harmon, son to Butch Harmon, began working with Tseng in January. His work with Tseng has been focused more on removing what’s in Tseng’s head than adding to it. 

“To be quite frank, she’s been kind of lost,” Harmon said. “She’s been searching, and she hasn’t had a lot of confidence.” 

Since losing the No. 1 world ranking in March of 2013, Tseng has been bouncing around in a desperate search to regain her winning form, going from one instructor to another, from one idea to another. Harmon says in her eagerness to excel again, Tseng has filled her head with too many ideas. 

“She’s been trying to make her swing so technical,” Harmon said. “She got into a rut where she was searching. She was listening to a lot of different people, and if something didn’t work, she wouldn’t really give it a chance. She was trying a bunch of different stuff. 

“I’ve learned from my father, if you’re going to play competitive golf at the highest level, you’ve got to make it as simple as possible. A lot of times players, when they struggle, the worse they hit it, the more complicated they try to make things.” 

Simplifying continues to be Harmon’s theme with Tseng. 

“We are making slight technical changes to her golf swing, but I’m just trying to take as much clutter out of her brain as possible,” Harmon said. “Every text message, I tell her, `Turn your brain off and go play golf.’ It’s not supposed to be difficult, but when you struggle, there’s so much information out there to find now, TrackMan and 3D. There is so much technical information that’s become part of the vernacular. 

“I believe you can’t play golf swing. You have to play golf, and Yani has been playing golf swing a couple years now, where she’s out there working on her swing in tournaments.” 

Tseng and Harmon didn’t get off to the most promising start this year. The first time Tseng teed it up in an LPGA event after going to work with Harmon, she shot 79 at the Women’s Australian Open. She followed that up with an 82 and missed the cut, but they kept focused on simplifying. 

This is back-to-back weeks now, though, that Tseng has a share of the first-round lead in an LPGA event. She also shot 66 in the first round in Thailand last week. 

“All she can do is give herself chances,” Harmon said. “I told her, `All you’ve got to try to do is get yourself back in the hunt. There will be times you play well, and you won’t win, and there will be times you won’t play as well, and you will win.’ You’ve just got to be there. She just hasn’t been in the hunt, but she’s going to be fine.” 

Tseng, 26, has won 15 LPGA titles, five of them majors, but she’s looking for her first LPGA title since winning the Kia Classic three years ago. She seemed to lose her winning mojo almost overnight back in 2012, when she won three times in five weeks at year’s start before going winless since. 

At her best, Tseng won seven LPGA titles in 2011, with 14 top-10 finishes. She had just two top-10 finishes last year. 

Harmon has been working with Tseng on her takeaway and position at the top of her backswing. 

“We’ve been trying to get her clubface in a little more neutral position and her posture in a little better position,” Harmon said. “She tends to get a little closed and shut at the top.” 

“But I said to Yani, 'Listen, you can play from a slightly closed position, and as long as you stay aggressive and keep your body moving, you can play quite well.’ I think more of what we are doing is just trying to rebuild her confidence.” 

When Tseng was at her best, her smile was almost unnerving to her competitors. 

“It’s kind of scary,” Na Yeon Choi once said of Tseng’s smile. “She never looks nervous, or as if there’s pressure on her.”

Harmon, like everyone else, watched Tseng lose that. 

“It was very evident she wasn’t having any fun on the golf course,” he said. “She wasn’t having any fun practicing, and she was probably practicing too much. I’ve had real frank conversations with her, just telling her everything’s going to be OK. 

“Like I said, I’d be shocked if she doesn’t win once or twice this year and give herself chances to win.” 

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.